A Stumble Upon friend shared this cool article with me, from Yoga + Joyful Living.
Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World
A Buddhist monk explains how you can find true happiness within. Plus: How to reduce violence, economic disparity, and your ecological footprint...starting today.
A few months ago, our Yoga+ staff had an opportunity to sit at the feet of a rare master. Tibetan Buddhist monk Samdhong Rinpoche (a close associate of H.H.Dalai Lama) paid a visit to the Himalayan Institute, where our offices are based, to explore how the Institute’s humanitarian programs might help Tibetan refugees living in exile in India.
For over 50 years Professor Rinpoche has worked to preserve the wisdom and culture of his people—ever since he fled from Tibet with more than 80,000 of his countrymen to escape the religious intolerance and violence committed during the communist Chinese occupation. One of the world’s leading scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Professor Rinpoche is also a modern statesman, serving as prime minister (Kalon Tripa) of the Central Tibetan Administration, which is based in Dharamsala, India.
During Rinpoche’s brief visit to our Pennsylvania ashram, he gave a lecture based on the subject of his book, Uncompromising Truth for a Compromised World—a series of in-depth dialogues with Buddhist practitioner Donovan Roebert. As Roebert explains in the book’s introduction: “I wanted Rinpoche to…resimplify the issues and problems that are central to our collective sanity, but which have become complicated beyond the grasp of the ordinary person.” Global warming, weapons of mass destruction, religious intolerance, economic disparity—Rinpoche addresses them all in his timely, compelling book…and in the lecture we’ve transcribed for you in the pages that follow. His view is “both radical and fundamental,” Roebert notes. “In its simplicity we can find a remedy for our apparent helplessness. All that is needed is an open mind.”
“Uncompromising” means “to remain with the truth.” I think that the world has not voluntarily compromised with truth but has been forced to compromise. We shall have to find out what those compromising forces are; only then can we decide whether we can resist those forces or whether there’s no way to resist them. After that, each individual may decide for himself or herself whether we are compelled to compromise or whether there is a just and fair way to remain uncompromised.
All living beings, even the smallest insects, naturally long for happiness and dislike misery. Human creatures have a rational mind and more wisdom. But in spite of longing for peace and happiness, humans are unable to create the causes and conditions for peace and happiness. They create causes for pain, misery, and unhappiness instead. And when you have created causes for unhappiness, then naturally unhappiness will follow you. You dislike unhappiness but you try to blame someone else. You are unable to identify where it goes wrong—where you have accumulated the causes and conditions for unhappiness.
I think instead of blaming someone else, we should concentrate on discovering which causes and conditions are responsible for the present unhappiness, misery, and pain. Either we have to eradicate the cause or accept the result which the cause has created. We cannot blame anyone else.
No one knows who they really are. And that is the beginning of all kinds of misconceptions, misunderstandings, and illusions. In our imagination, we project a conceptual identity as an independently existing self, and that creates selfishness. In this way, we see others as entirely different or independent from ourselves. This duality, this division between the self and others, is the root cause of all our miseries. What you understand yourself to be is not your real self. So you need to look more in depth to understand the existence of the self. That’s why the Buddha emphasized the philosophy of interdependent origination. This interdependence gives you a vision of how you exist in relation with all the rest of creation. And if you would come to understand that relationship, your entire worldview would be different. There would not be a vertical and horizontal division—the compartmentalization of the self and the other. Human beings, as a higher realm of living creatures, have the power to analyze the reality of things. So we need to analyze right from the beginning to understand the self. If you are able to understand the self, then you are able to understand the world. If you understand your self and understand the world, then you will be able to remain uncompromised and resist the forces that make you compromise.
Today, due to our compromises with falsehood, the world is not in a very positive state of affairs. We are living in a so-called modern, ultra-modern or post-modern civilization—a civilization that gives utmost importance to external material things and utterly neglects the inner self, the inner world. We depend entirely on the Internet and we have forgotten the “inner net.” Because of the disconnection of our inner net, we are all separate individuals. Our interdependency with other living creatures, with nature and everything else, has been forgotten.
Furthermore, with the help of the Internet and the information revolution, human miseries are being magnified. We are able to know every day what is happening on the other side of the world. This makes the problems more permanent. Apart from that, we create problems collectively, whereas in the past, most problems were created or caused by individuals or small groups. Now problems are being created by a larger group and collectively by almost every human being, so we are facing many, many challenges. Each one of the challenges is capable of destroying this entire small planet.
We are facing ever-increasing violence—violence of war, violence of terrorism, and violence of exploitation—structural violence, both visible and invisible. Wherever you go, you are subject to violence. You suffer from constant fear of violence, particularly when you travel around in airplanes and through airports. They search you. You have to remove your turban, you have to remove your shoes, while going through the security check. Every human being is considered a potential danger, a potential terrorist. Why is it so? Because we have completely lost mutual trust and completely lost mutual compassion. Each one has a hatred for others. So the world becomes unsafe.
Violence is one of the greatest challenges. The scope of violence has so in-creased that destructive weapons now can destroy the earth several times over. Of course, you do not need to do that because one destruction is final, forever. But see how modern humanity is so unenlightened and foolish to have accumulated this kind of weapon, which is absolutely unusable. If someone has used it, then the globe is gone. Then you will not be able to use what you have accumulated for decades and centuries at such great cost. On the other hand, people are dying of hunger, dying for lack of medical facilities, while billions of dollars are spent to create and store these destructive weapons. A push of a button can blow up the entire earth. That is absolutely possible now. It is not a vision, it is a fact. We have to realize this fact. We have to think, why is it so?
The second challenge is economic disparity. The gaps between the haves and the have-nots are increasing all over the world—gaps between continents, between nations, within nations. The rich are becoming ever richer, the poor are becoming poorer. There are nations that have much wealth and at the same time much poverty among their people. There is no actual shortage of commodities, but there are artificial shortages of commodities—even essential life-sustaining commodities such as food, clothes, and shelter—because of improper accumulation of wealth by fewer and fewer people.
Mahatma Gandhi said that Mother Earth is capable of satisfying the needs of each creature that lives on this earth—from elephants to the smallest insects. But Mother Earth can never satisfy a single person’s greed. We have forgotten the need, we only know the greed. We are completely overpowered by greed. We are made slaves of greed. So we have lost the wisdom to understand what is our need. Due to greed, problems, conflicts, and exploitation have been created. This is, I think, a second powerful challenge facing humanity.
The third challenge is degradation of the environment, the ecosystem. This is a direct result of economic exploitation. Unlimited greed has created the desire to exploit natural resources indiscriminately, so now we have global warming, a deteriorating climate, scarcity of water, pollution of the air and water. When we came to India from Tibet in the early ’60s we could drink from the wells, from the taps, from the railway station. Today we have to carry water with us. I think the time is not far when we will have to carry air with us in bags.
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